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BackStory with the American History Guys

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BackStory is a weekly one-hour public radio show that provides a national broadcast audience with an enjoyable and accessible way of engaging challenging themes in American history and how they connect with today. The show is hosted by renowned historians Peter Onuf, Ed Ayers, and Brian Balogh. BackStory’s signature sound and spirit of inquiry emanates from the hearts and minds of its genial hosts, whose unscripted brilliance reflects a warmth and rapport that comes from their longtime friendship.

Please confirm carriage of BackStory with the American History Guys by contacting Melissa LaCasse at 207.776.4926 or lacassemelissa@gmail.com.

Moving from current headlines to drill down into U.S. history, each surprising BackStory episode features lively interviews with a diverse roster of scholars, experts, and ordinary citizens from around the country; listener calls; host discussions; and produced pieces. Topics are as diverse as college sports, reenactments, sugar, memorials, domestic terrorism, birthing, homeownership, the post office, philanthropy, protests, privacy, marriage, revivalism, and childhood—all in the context of American history.

Since BackStory first began as a monthly show in 2008, episodes have been broadcast by more than 130 primary stations in 39 states, 29 in the top 50 markets by population. Podcasts have been downloaded 1.4 million times.

BackStory is produced by VFH Radio at the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities. Major funding is provided by the National Endowment for the Humanities with additional corporate, foundation, institutional, and individual support.

Please visit our station landing page for upcoming episodes, promotional photos, and other information.

 


Pieces

Caption: Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers star in Leave it to Beaver, 1958. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
In his State of the Union address, the president defined “middle-class economics” as “the idea that this country does best when everyone gets their...

  • Added: Feb 27, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Tony Dow, Barbara Billingsley and Jerry Mathers star in Leave it to Beaver, 1958. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
30-second promo for "The Middling Sort: Visions of the Middle Class," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio


  • Added: Feb 24, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Crowd lining street under the marquee of the Pantages Theatre at the 31st Academy Awards in 1959. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
History is hot right now — in movies like Selma and American Sniper, on TV shows like The Knick and Sleepy Hollow, even in video games like Assassi...

Bought by WRGY, WJFF, WYAP, and KBRP Community Radio


  • Added: Feb 20, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 4
Caption: Crowd lining street under the marquee of the Pantages Theatre at the 31st Academy Awards in 1959. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
History is hot right now — in movies like Selma and American Sniper, on TV shows like The Knick and Sleepy Hollow, even in video games like Assassi...

  • Added: Feb 20, 2015
  • Length: 53:00
Caption: Crowd lining street under the marquee of the Pantages Theatre at the 31st Academy Awards in 1959. , Credit: Wikimedia Commons.
30-second promo for "Pop History," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio and WABE


  • Added: Feb 18, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 2
Caption: U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin at the Yalta conference, February 1945.
In the past few years, the White House and the Kremlin have sparred over Syria, the Winter Olympics, and now, the crisis in Ukraine. It can be temp...

  • Added: Feb 13, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin at the Yalta conference, February 1945.
In the past few years, the White House and the Kremlin have sparred over Syria, the Winter Olympics, and now, the crisis in Ukraine. It can be temp...

  • Added: Feb 13, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet premier Joseph Stalin at the Yalta conference, February 1945.
30-second promo for "Stars & Tsars: A History of US/Russia Relations," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag

Bought by 90.1 WFYI Public Radio, Troy Public Radio, and WABE


  • Added: Feb 10, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 3
Caption: Mural of Rosie the Riveter, Sacramento, Calif., Credit: Library of Congress
Producer Nina Earnest and legal scholar Lea VanderVelde unpack the tort of seduction — one of the few claims women could make to challenge sexual h...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Feb 10, 2015
  • Length: 07:26
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Mural of Rosie the Riveter, Sacramento, Calif., Credit: Library of Congress
This time on BackStory, we’re going to work on stories about women’s work. It’s easy nowadays to roll our eyes at the quaint notion that “a woman’s...

Bought by KSUT, KTSW 89.9, WEZU, WRIR, WRGY and more


  • Added: Feb 06, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 9
Caption: Mural of Rosie the Riveter, Sacramento, Calif., Credit: Library of Congress
This time on BackStory, we’re going to work on stories about women’s work. It’s easy nowadays to roll our eyes at the quaint notion that “a woman’s...

  • Added: Feb 06, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Toward Los Angeles, Calif., by Dorothea Lange, 1937., Credit: Library of Congress
Author Larry Tye and host Brian Balogh discuss the masterful campaign by PR guru Edward Bernays, to convince American women to take up smoking. Plu...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Feb 04, 2015
  • Length: 11:13
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Toward Los Angeles, Calif., by Dorothea Lange, 1937., Credit: Library of Congress
Author Richard Jurek describes how one giant leap in public relations helped launch NASA’s lunar program - and how brands used the space program to...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Feb 04, 2015
  • Length: 09:39
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Toward Los Angeles, Calif., by Dorothea Lange, 1937., Credit: Library of Congress
Historian Cathy Gudis returns with the story of how advertising followed 20th century Americans out onto the open road, and discusses efforts to cu...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Feb 04, 2015
  • Length: 10:37
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Toward Los Angeles, Calif., by Dorothea Lange, 1937., Credit: Library of Congress
Composer Michael Levine, who wrote the long-running Kit-Kat jingle, tells host Brian Balogh what makes a jingle powerful — and catchy. Then… he off...

Bought by PRX Remix


  • Added: Feb 04, 2015
  • Length: 10:07
  • Purchases: 1
Piece image
30-second promo for "Women at Work: A History," with 5-second music bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

Bought by KSUT


  • Added: Feb 03, 2015
  • Length: :30
  • Purchases: 1
Caption: Toward Los Angeles, Calif., by Dorothea Lange, 1937., Credit: Library of Congress
On the first of February, more than 100 million Americans will tune in to watch the two best teams in the NFL vie for the national championship … a...

Bought by KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, WRIR, WRGY, WPCA-LP, WRPI and more


  • Added: Jan 30, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7
Caption: Toward Los Angeles, Calif., by Dorothea Lange, 1937., Credit: Library of Congress
On the first of February, more than 100 million Americans will tune in to watch the two best teams in the NFL vie for the national championship … a...

  • Added: Jan 30, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
Caption: Toward Los Angeles, Calif., by Dorothea Lange, 1937., Credit: Library of Congress
30-second promo for "New & Improved: Advertising in America," with 5-second bed at end for station-specific time/date tag.

  • Added: Jan 28, 2015
  • Length: :30
Caption: Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg, November 19th, 1863., Credit: Library of Congress
Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is, of course, one of the most iconic speeches in American history. But in 1863, it got decidedly mixed review...

Bought by South Dakota Public Broadcasting - Radio, KSVR Studios: Skagit Valley Radio, WRGY, KREV-LP, WYAP and more


  • Added: Jan 23, 2015
  • Length: 54:00
  • Purchases: 7